cover image Lizzie Nonsense: A Story of Pioneer Days

Lizzie Nonsense: A Story of Pioneer Days

Jan Ormerod. Clarion Books, $15 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-618-57493-3

Set in a bygone time, Ormerod's (When an Elephant Comes to School) gentle story introduces a close-knit family living in a small, remote house on the Australian bush. When Papa goes off in his horse-drawn wagon to sell sandalwood in town, Lizzie, Mama and baby are left alone for weeks. Lizzie fills the time ""playing and pretending. She is always dreaming."" Her mother's repeated gentle reproach that this is ""Lizzie nonsense!"" doesn't discourage her daughter's daydreams. The girl imagines that baby's little bathtub is a boat afloat on the sea, when picking flowers in the garden, she pretends she is a bride, and she fantasizes that dinner will be peaches, cream and sweet cakes rather than the usual turnips. In an affecting turn, Mama, too, reveals her need to fantasize: every Sunday, she and Lizzie put on their best clothes and push baby's carriage as they walk ""along the track and back, and Mama pretends they have been to church."" The red and brown of the earth, and leafy green sponge-like watercolors dominate Ormerod's softly focused, light-dappled paintings, which include some dear cameos of the cherubic baby. This appealing art effectively juxtaposes the particulars of the family's rather austere, rustic lifestyle and Lizzie's uplifting imaginative musings. Papa's joyous homecoming (Lizzie and Mama both proclaim his loving, exaggerated compliments ""Nonsense!"") brings this timeless tale to a fittingly warm conclusion. Ages 5-8.